Stroke patients lack social work support, Royal College of Physicians survey finds

Social work support for stroke patients remains inadequate, a national audit of provision by the Royal College of Physicians has found.

The report, published yesterday and based on 2006 figures, said just 56% of patients received a social work assessment within seven days of a referral, up just 3% on the 2004 audit score.

The study found 25% of hospital stroke units did not have a designated social worker, while the study also said that the provision of psychology services remained “diabolical”.

The Healthcare Commission-funded audit measures progress against standards designed to represent best practice, set by the Intercollegiate Stroke Group, made up of representatives from professional bodies involved in stroke care.

The audit said there was an ongoing lack of community support for stroke patients, with just 22 per cent of NHS trusts having early supported discharge teams, despite “good evidence [of their effectiveness] both in terms of clinical benefit and resource use”.

This was despite evidence of people being discharged from hospital earlier, with a fall in the average length of stay for stroke patients in hospital from 27.9 days in 2004 to 25.6 days in 2006.

However, the study found that 68% of stroke units had a community user group in 2006, up from 59% in 2004, and 68% of carers had received an assessment independently of service users, up from 43% in 2004.

Related articles:

Social care for stroke survivors: a special report

Stroke patients require more support

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